UNIT 3.10 Proliferative Assays for B Cell Function

  1. James J. Mond,
  2. Mark Brunswick

Published Online: 1 NOV 2003

DOI: 10.1002/0471142735.im0310s57

Current Protocols in Immunology

Current Protocols in Immunology

How to Cite

Mond, J. J. and Brunswick, M. 2003. Proliferative Assays for B Cell Function. Current Protocols in Immunology. 57:II:3.10:3.10.1–3.10.8.

Author Information

  1. Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 NOV 2003
  2. Published Print: OCT 2003


This unit describes procedures for measuring the capacity of purified B cells to undergo proliferation. The method centers on the use of polyclonal stimulating agents (mitogens) because these agents stimulate the majority of B cells and because the alternative (measurement of antigen-induced proliferation) requires the laborious procedures of isolating antigen-specific B cells (which are otherwise present in too low a concentration in whole B cell populations). Cross-linking of the B cell antigen receptor, surface immunoglobulin (sIg), by specific antigen stimulates cells to proliferate prior to secreting Ig. For this purpose, monoclonal or heterologous affinity-purified anti-Ig antibodies are used. B cells can also be stimulated to proliferate by antigen-nonspecific reagents (mitogens), and it is also critical to study the role of these mitogens in B cell responses. Both of these systems have the advantage that the majority of B cells will be activated. The first basic protocol describes B cell proliferation induced by two commonly used stimulants–anti-Ig antibody (either anti-IgM or anti-IgD) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)–as measured by incorporation of [3H]thymidine into dividing cells. Alternate protocols describe other commonly used mitogens as well as other means of measuring cell proliferation.